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Saturday, 11 October 2014

Pretty in pink

"That's Kelvin's old laboratory," I tell Rachel as we drive past, headed for the campus exit. "My son and I were in there last week, getting a tour of the Nanofabrication Centre

"You see all that pipework?" I add.

"What about it?" she says looking out the car window.

"That's for the services the Centre needs. Liquid nitrogen. Hot and cold running water. Tiny corn flakes for the nanobots' breakfast."

"You're gibbering," she says. "Get serious. What do you know about gay flamingos?"

"Mmm," I say, dredging the memory banks and coming up empty. "Nothing."

"See that's my point," she says. "You're a bottleneck."

"Did I miss the start of this chat?" I say, slowing for a young student in denim shorts who thinks earphones protect you from cars.

"Sorry," she says. "I was working through it in my head and you only got the end. The start was we need stories up faster on Three Minute Learning. We've got 200. We need 2000."  

"I can't write any faster," I say. "I got other clients."

"So we need more writers," she says. "Like me."

"What you going to write about?" I ask.

"Gay flamingos," she says, and the feeling I often get when Rachel talks to me - that my head's in a dark cave being squeezed by a giant hand - vanishes. 

"Got you," I say. "Makes sense now. What's the story?"

"Pair of gay flamingos at Edinburgh zoo have adopted a baby chick, after it was rejected by its straight parents," she says.

"Sounds good," I say pulling up on Wellington Street and getting her bag out the back of the car. "What's the development?"

"Same-sex animal pairs raising neglected babies is common," she says. "A zoo in Japan accidentally spent four years trying to get a pair of male hyenas to breed. A children’s book about a pair of male penguins who raised an egg is top of the banned book list in America."

"Great stuff," I say. "Go ahead and write it on the train."

"Which leaves in five minutes, so must dash," she says, reaching for a fashion item I hadn't noticed. "What do you think?" she says, holding it up. 

"It's a Harris Tweed handbag," I say.

"How did you know?" she says.

"Susan's sister got one for her birthday. But she's elegant. Why do you want one?"

"I figure Adam deserves better than blue jeans after a hard day in the fields," she says. "So geeky physicist is out and classy chick who's going places is in."

"You do look like a chick who's going places," I say.

"Because I have a fancy handbag?"

"Because you're running for a train."

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